Contemporary articles citing Coleman J (1990) Fdn Social Theory
forms, possible, way, interaction, relations, should, action, economic, concept, second
- Silver, Daniel & Monica Lee. 2012. "Self-relations in Social Relations." Sociological Theory. 30:4 207-237.
- This article contributes to an ongoing theoretical effort to extend the insights of relational and network sociology into adjacent domains. We integrate Simmel's late theory of the relational self into the formal analysis of social relations, generating a framework for theorizing forms of association among self-relating individuals. On this model, every ``node'' in an interaction has relations not only to others but also to itself, specifically between its ideality and its actuality. We go on to integrate this self-relation into a formal model of social relations. This model provides a way to describe configurations of social interactions defined by the forms according to which social relations realize participants' ideal selves. We examine four formal dimensions along which these self-relational relationships can vary: distance, symmetry, scope, and actualization.
- Chang, Kuang-chi. 2011. "A Path to Understanding Guanxi in China's Transitional Economy: Variations on Network Behavior*." Sociological Theory. 29:4 315-339.
- Current research on guanxi (Chinese social connections) suffers from conceptual confusion. This article presents a new theoretical framework for understanding guanxi in the face of China's economic and social transformations. Guanxi is viewed as a purposive network behavior that can take different strategic forms, such as accessing, bridging, and embedding. Pairing this conceptualization with a social-evolutionary framework, I argue that the emergence and increasing or decreasing prevalence of each form over time result from (1) a combination of factors at three analytical levelsmicroagency, mesonetwork, and macroinstitutionaland (2) endogenous processes of selection. By focusing on behavioral forms and their evolution, this framework is able to bridge divides in the guanxi literature, provide a foundation for comparative studies of network behavior across societies, and connect the study of guanxi with economic sociology more broadly.
- Jepperson, Ronald & John Meyer. 2011. "Multiple Levels of Analysis and the Limitations of Methodological Individualisms." Sociological Theory. 29:1 54-73.
- This article discusses relations among the multiple levels of analysis present in macro-sociological explanation-i.e., relations of individual, structural, and institutional processes. It also criticizes the doctrinal insistence upon single-level individualistic explanation found in some prominent contemporary sociological theory. For illustrative material the article returns to intellectual uses of Weber's ``Protestant Ethic thesis,'' showing how an artificial version has been employed as a kind of proof text for the alleged scientific necessity of individualist explanation. Our alternative exposition renders the discussion of Protestantism and capitalism in an explicitly multilevel way, distinguishing possible individual-level, social-organizational, and institutional linkages. The causal processes involved are distinct ones, with the more structural and institutional forms neither captured nor attainable by individual-level thinking. We argue more generally that ``methodological individualisms'' confuse issues of explanation with issues about microfoundations. This persistent intellectual conflation may be rooted in the broader folk models of liberal individualism.
- Bush, Evelyn. 2010. "Explaining Religious Market Failure: a Gendered Critique of the Religious Economies Model." Sociological Theory. 28:3 304-325.
- According to the religious economies model, religious supply in open religious economies should adapt to the demands of diverse market niches. This proposition is inconsistent with the finding that, although women constitute the majority of religious consumers, the majority of the religions produced in the American religious marketplace favor men's interests relative to women's. Three modifications to the religious economies model are suggested to account for this contradiction. The first modification is a respecification of ``religious capital'' that takes into account unequal distributions of power among producers of religious value and their differential effects on the beneficiaries and targets of religious norms. The second modification theorizes religion's linkages to other social institutions as sources of cost and benefit that are taken into account by religious entrepreneurs. The third modification accounts for status-based discrimination and unequal distributions of capital as sources of constraint that influence the production of religious supply. Several directions for future research are proposed.
- Garcelon, Marc. 2010. "The Missing Key: Institutions, Networks, and the Project of Neoclassical Sociology." Sociological Theory. 28:3 326-353.
- The diversity of contemporary ``capitalisms'' underscores the need to supplant the amorphous concept of structure with more precise concepts, particularly institutions and networks. All institutions entail both embodied and relational aspects. Institutions are relational insofar as they map obligatory patterns of ``getting by and getting along''-institutional orders-that steer stable social fields over time. Institutions are simultaneously embodied as institutional paradigms, part of a larger bodily agency Pierre Bourdieu called habitus. Institutions are in turn tightly coupled to networks between various people based on, but not reducible to, strategic interests. Yet social interaction sometimes exceeds institutional boundaries, giving rise to disjunctive fields and underscoring the prominence of institutional failures in the unfolding of antagonistic relations such as warfare. Such disjunctive fields can be tracked in relation to some transnational networks at the global level without assuming developmental convergence. This last point underscores the meaning of neoclassical sociology, which eschews assumptions of developmental convergence at the global level.
- Molm, Linda, David Schaefer & Jessica Collett. 2009. "Fragile and Resilient Trust: Risk and Uncertainty in Negotiated and Reciprocal Exchange." Sociological Theory. 27:1 1-32.
- Both experimental and ethnographic studies show that reciprocal exchanges (in which actors unilaterally provide benefits to each other without formal agreements) produce stronger trust than negotiated exchanges secured by binding agreements. We develop the theoretical role of risk and uncertainty as causal mechanisms that potentially explain these results, and then test their effects in two laboratory experiments that vary risk and uncertainty within negotiated and reciprocal forms of exchange. We increase risk in negotiated exchanges by making agreements nonbinding and decrease uncertainty in reciprocal exchanges by having actors communicate their intentions. Our findings support three main theoretical conclusions. (1) Increasing risk in negotiated exchange produces levels of trust comparable to those in reciprocal exchange only if the partner's trustworthiness is near-absolute. (2) Decreasing uncertainty in reciprocal exchange either increases or decreases trust, depending on network structure. (3) Even when reciprocal and negotiated exchanges produce comparable levels of trust, their trust differs in kind, with reciprocal exchange partners developing trust that is more resilient and affect-based.
- Abend, Gabriel. 2008. "The Meaning of `theory'." Sociological Theory. 26:2 173-199.
- `Theory' is one of the most important words in the lexicon of contemporary sociology. Yet, their ubiquity notwithstanding, it is quite unclear what sociologists mean by the words `theory,' `theoretical,' and `theorize.' I argue that confusions about the meaning of `theory' have brought about undesirable consequences, including conceptual muddles and even downright miscommunication. In this paper I tackle two questions: (a) what does `theory' mean in the sociological language?; and (b) what ought `theory' to mean in the sociological language? I proceed in five stages. First, I explain why one should ask a semantic question about `theory.' Second, I lexicographically identify seven different senses of the word, which I distinguish by means of subscripts. Third, I show some difficulties that the current lack of semantic clarity has led sociology to. Fourth, I articulate the question, `what ought ``theory'' to mean?,' which I dub the `semantic predicament' (SP), and I consider what one can learn about it from the theory literature. Fifth, I recommend a `semantic therapy' for sociology, and advance two arguments about SP: (a) the principle of practical reason-SP is to a large extent a political issue, which should be addressed with the help of political mechanisms; and (b) the principle of ontological and epistemological pluralism-the solution to SP should not be too ontologically and epistemologically demanding.
- Holmwood, John. 2007. "Sociology as Public Discourse and Professional Practice: a Critique of Michael Burawoy." Sociological Theory. 25:1 46-66.
- In this article I discuss Burawoy's (2005) argument for public sociology in the context of the sociologist as both citizen and as social scientist; that is, as simultaneously a member of any `society' being researched and as researcher claiming validity for the knowledge produced by research. I shall suggest that the relation between citizenship and social science necessarily places a limit on sociological claims to knowledge in terms both of what can be claimed and of the legitimacy of any claims, but that this need not be damaging to sociology as an expert practice producing distinctive and significant forms of knowledge about the social world. Burawoy's claims on behalf of public sociology take their force from the idea of the sociologist as citizen, but they go beyond this limit in a way that would not only undermine the legitimacy of sociology as professional practice, but also, I shall argue, that of public sociology itself. Ultimately, Burawoy argues for a partisan profession that actively promotes human values that he believes to be embodied in the sociological standpoint. In contrast, I shall argue that political neutrality is central to the corporate organization of sociology, not because social inquiry can, or should be, value-neutral, but because corporate political neutrality creates the space for dialogue and is the condition for any sociology to have a voice.
- Martin, JL & M George. 2006. "Theories of Sexual Stratification: Toward an Analytics of the Sexual Field and a Theory of Sexual Capital." Sociological Theory. 24:2 107-132.
- The American tradition of action theory failed to produce a useful theory of the possible existence of trans-individual consistencies in sexual desirability. Instead, most sociological theorists have relied on market metaphors to account for the logic of sexual action. Through a critical survey of sociological attempts to explain the social organization of sexual desiring, this article demonstrates that the market approach is inadequate, and that its inadequacies can be remedied by studying sexual action as occurring within a specifically sexual field (in Bourdieu's sense), with a correlative sexual capital. Such a conception allows for historical and comparative analysis of changes in the organization of sexual action that are impeded by the use of a market metaphor, and also points to difficulties in Bourdieu's own treatment of the body qua body.
- Hoffman, SG. 2006. "How to Punch Someone and Stay Friends: an Inductive Theory of Simulation." Sociological Theory. 24:2 170-193.
- One way to study ontology is to assess how people differentiate real activities from others, and a good case is how groups organize simulation. However, social scientists have tended to discuss simulation in more limited ways, either as a symptom of postmodernism or as an instrumental artifact. Missing is how groups organize simulations to prepare for the future. First, I formulate a definition of simulation as a group-level technique, which includes the qualities of everyday ontology, playfulness, risk and consequence reduction, constrained innovation, and transportability. Next, I use ethnographic data collected at an amateur boxing gym to argue that simulations simplify the most risky, unpredictable, and interpersonal aspects of a consequential performance. The problem is that a simulation can rarely proceed exactly like the reality it is derived from. For example, boxers hold back in sparring but should not in competition. The effectiveness of a simulation therefore depends on how robust the model is and how well members translate the imperfect fit between the contextual norms of the simulation and its reality.
- Michalski, JH. 2003. "Financial Altruism or Unilateral Resource Exchanges? - Toward a Pure Sociology of Welfare." Sociological Theory. 21:4 341-358.
- Questions concerning the essential nature of altruism, the existence of an altruistic personality, and the genetic, biosocial, and social psychological bases of altruistic behavior have dominated theory and research on the topic. The current paper reconceptualizes financial altruism sociologically as a form of unilateral resource exchanges, or welfare. The alternative definition employs Donald Black's (1979, 2000) analytic approach to describe and explain the behavior of welfare with its location and direction in social space. The paper offers several propositions that purport to explain variations in welfare by drawing upon cross-cultural research. In general, welfare flows in the direction of those who are less integrated and who have lower social status. In addition, welfare varies directly with intimacy, conventionality, and respectability. Finally, welfare varies inversely with relational distance, cultural distance, and group size. The paper concludes with a brief discussion of strengths and limitations of the general propositions advanced.
- Donabedian, B. 2003. "The Natural Realm of Social Law." Sociological Theory. 21:2 175-190.
- This paper proposes criteria for distinguishing those types of social forms that are susceptible to lawlike explanation from those that are susceptible to interpretive accounts. The main criterion concerns the rankability of choice alternatives. The choice process is modeled as having two subprocesses. The first subprocess is a rational one in which unacceptable decision alternatives are eliminated, reducing the universe of alternatives to the set of interchangeably acceptable options, termed the admissible set. In the second subprocess, an arbitrary choice is made from the admissible set. In rational-choice settings, the admissible set consists of just one element, the optimum. However, this is clearly not the only possibility, as the example of language, with its plurality of interchangeable phonemic options, bears witness. The fundamental concept: At one extreme-the extreme of language-the admissible set is large and the arbitrary-choice subprocess dominates the rational-choice subprocess. At the other extreme-the extreme of rational-choice theory-the admissible set consists of a single element and the rational-choice subprocess dominates the arbitrary-choice subprocess. Social law has its proper home in those territories of human activity where the admissible set. is small; social interpretation has its proper home in those regions where the admissible set is large.
- Misztal, BA. 2001. "Normality and Trust in Goffman's Theory of Interaction Order." Sociological Theory. 19:3 312-324.
- The article asserts that Goffman's concept of normality comes close to the notion of trust as a protective mechanism that prevents chaos and disorder by providing us with feelings of safety, certainty, and familiarity. Arguing that to account for the tendency of social order to be seen as normal we need to conceptualize trust as the routine background of everyday interaction, the article analyzes Goffmans concepts of normal appearances, stigma, and frames as devices for endowing social order with predictability, reliability, and legibility. For Goffman, normality is a collective achievement, which is possible because of the orderliness of interactional activities, which is-in turn-predicated ``on a large base of shared cognitive presuppositions, if not normative ones, and self-sustained restraints''.
- Fuchs, S. 2001. "Beyond Agency." Sociological Theory. 19:1 24-40.
- The reason why agency/structure and micro/macro debates remain unresolved is the bad essentialist habit of treating such pairs as opposite natural kinds. Once variation is allowed, agency and structure. or micro and macro, are temporal? poles bracketing a continuum. with serial entities moving along this continuum over time. Explaining these transformations from agency into structure, or micro into macro. and vice versa is the challenge for explanatory theory. This challenge is met by switching to a constructivist level of second-order observing. Then, agency and structure become variable devices or frames different observers might use to perform different sorts of cultural work.
- Baxter, V & AV Margavio. 2000. "Honor, Status, and Aggression in Economic Exchange." Sociological Theory. 18:3 399-416.
- The concept of honor links reputation and self-esteem with interaction. in social groups and provides a promising way to approach questions about the release of aggression aggression in economic exchange. While the internalization of conventional honor codes offers the hope of peaceful, if not just, exchange, competing codes of honor coexist within various aspects of the self and among members of various status groups. When a person's sense of individual or group honor is repeatedly violated in economic interaction, the reaction may include the release of aggression to repair damaged honor and establish self-respect. The narrative proceeds with art exploration of the concept of honor-followed by a brief review of the association of honor with rational action in pursuit of economic success. The problematic inscription on the self of conventional codes of honor is then discussed. A brief discussion of staged role performance and the display of alternative codes of honor in workplace interaction and in extralegal market exchange illustrates the argument. A final section considers alternative approaches to the problem of self-control as social control.
- Zafirovski, M. 2000. "The Rational Choice Generalization of Neoclassical Economics Reconsidered: Any Theoretical Legitimation for Economic Imperialism?." Sociological Theory. 18:3 448-471.
- The article reconsiders the generalization of neoclassical economics by modern rational choice theory. Hence, it reexamines the possible theoretical grounds or lack thereof within neoclassical economics for economic imperialism implied in much of rational choice theory. Some indicative instances of rational choice theory's generalization of neoclassical economics are reviewed. The main portion of the article addresses the question as to whether neoclassical economics allows its generalization in rational choice theory and thus legitimizes economic imperialism. Presented are a number of pertinent theoretical reasons why neoclassical economics does not fully justify ifs generalization into rational choice as a general social theory particularly into an over-arching economic approach to social action and society Also discussed are some theoretical implications of the rational choice generalization of neoclassical economics. The main contribution of the article is to defect lack of a strong theoretical rationale in much of neoclassical economics for rational choice theory's manifest or latent economic imperialism.
- Abell, P. 2000. "Putting Social Theory Right?." Sociological Theory. 18:3 518-523.
- The paper considers some of the implications of Coleman Diagrams in die context of the study of social interaction at the microlevel. Such studies cannot be adequately modeled without improved theoretical rigor. The Theory of Comparative Narratives is advanced as one possible analytical framework of the modeling of interactions.
- Stark, R. 1999. "Micro Foundations of Religion: a Revised Theory." Sociological Theory. 17:3 264-289.
- In a major revision of my earlier theoretical work on religion, I attempt to identify and connect the basic micro elements and processes underlying religious expression. I show that all primary aspects of religion - belief; emotion, ritual, prayer, sacrifice, mysticism, and miracle - can be understood on the basis of exchange relations between humans and supernatural beings. Although I utilize a cognitive definition of religion, this new version of the theory is especially concerned with the emotional and expressive aspects of religion. Along the way I also clarify the difference between religion and magic and this sets the stage for explaining the conditions under which religion (but not magic) can require extended and exclusive exchange relations between humans and the gods, thus enabling some religions to sustain stable organizations based on a lay membership.
- Kiser, E. 1999. "Comparing Varieties of Agency Theory in Economics, Political Science, and Sociology: an Illustration From State Policy Implementation." Sociological Theory. 17:2 146-170.
- As rational choice theory has moved from economics into political science and sociology, it has been dramatically transformed. The intellectual diffusion of agency theory illustrates this process. Agency theory is a general model of social relations involving the delegation of authority, and generally resulting in problems of control, which has been applied to a broad range of substantive contexts. This paper analyzes applications of agency theory to state policy implementation in economics, political science, and sociology. After documenting variations in the theory across disciplinary contexts, the strengths and weaknesses of these different varieties of agency theory are assessed. Sociological versions of agency theory incorporating both broader microfoundations and richer models of social structure, are in many respects the most promising. This type of agency theory illustrates the potential of art emerging sociological version of rational choice theory.
- Camic, C. 1998. "Reconstructing the Theory of Action." Sociological Theory. 16:3 283-291.
- Kanazawa, S. 1998. "In Defense of Unrealistic Assumptions." Sociological Theory. 16:2 193-204.
- I argue that a theory's assumptions always are and ought to be unrealistic. Further we should attempt to make them more unrealistic in order to increase a theory's fruitfulness. Many sociologists believe that a theory's assumptions ought to be empirically realistic. I contend that this criticism probably stems from the confusion of a theory's assumptions with its scope conditions. While Friedman's (1953) similar prescription is associated with the instrumentalist philosophy of science, I maintain that it is also consistent with the realist view if ``unrealistic'' is taken to mean ``incomplete'' rather than ``untrue.'' I discuss a recent theory of the value of children by Friedman, Hechter and Kanazawa (1994) to point out how assumptions differ from scope renditions and how empirically plausible and realistic hypotheses can be logically deduced from highly unrealistic assumptions. I then discuss Kollock's (1993a, 1993b) revision of Axelrod's (1984) Cooperation Theory as an example of when assumptions need to be revised.
- Dahms, HF. 1997. "Theory in Weberian Marxism: Patterns of Critical Social Theory in Lukacs and Habermas." Sociological Theory. 15:3 181-214.
- For Weberian Marxists, the social theories of Max Weber and Karl Marx are complementary, contributions to the analysis of modern capitalist society. Combining Weber's theory of rationalization with Marx's critique of commodity fetishism to develop his own critique of reification, Georg Lukacs contended that the combination of Marx's and Weber's social theories is essential to envisioning socially transformative modes of praxis in advanced capitalist society. By comparing Lukacs's theory of reification with Habermas's theory of communicative action as two theories in the tradition of Weberian Marxism, I show how the prevailing mode of ``doing theory'' has shifted from Marx's critique of economic deter terminism to Weber's idea of the inner logic of social value spheres. Today, Weberian Marxism can make an important contribution to theoretical sociology by reconstituting itself as a framework for critically examining prevailing societal definitions of the rationalization imperatives specific to purposive-rational social value spheres (the economy, the administrative state, etc.). In a second step, Weberian Marxists would explore how these value spheres relate to Each other and to value spheres that are open to the type of communicative rationalization characteristic of the lifeworld level of social organization.
- Whitmeyer, JM. 1997. "Endogamy as a Basis for Ethnic Behavior." Sociological Theory. 15:2 162-178.
- In this article I argue for endogamy as a fundamental cause of human behavior that is often classified as ethnic. Specifically, I show that it would make evolutionary sense for people to help possible co-progenitors of their descendants. This suggests that in many situations people will help preferentially the minimal endogamous set of people to which they belong. Such help mostly will be restricted to providing benefits that are nearly ``non-rival''-benefits that group members can ``consume'' without making others consume less. This (partial) explanation of pro-ethny behavior reconciles key points from various approaches to ethnicity and agrees with many empirical observations, such as the link between endogamy and ethnicity and the variability of criteria for ethnicity. This explanation yields predictions and explanations in a number of problematic areas; for example, it suggests that expansion of the marriage pool, often occurring as a result of urbanization, is a crucial factor in the transformation of local identities into nationalism.
- Kalberg, S. 1996. "On the Neglect of Weber's Protestant Ethic as a Theoretical Treatise: Demarcating the Parameters of Postwar American Sociological Theory." Sociological Theory. 14:1 49-70.
- Although widely recognized as one of sociology's true classics, Max Weber's The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism has largely failed to influence the development of sociological theory in the United States. Because it has been read almost exclusively as a study of the ``role of ideas'' in economic development, its diverse and multifaceted theoretical contributions generally have been neglected. This study explicitly calls attention to The Protestant Ethic as a theoretical treatise by examining this classic in reference to four major debates in postwar sociological theory in the United States. Moreover, it demarcates an array of major parameters in American theorizing. The conclusion speculates upon the reasons for the strong opposition to The Protestant Ethic's theoretical lessons and argues that a style of theorizing unique to sociology in the United States has erected firm barriers against this classic text.